The Shepherd's Hut

The Shepherd's Hut

Book - 2018
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Jaxie dreads going home. His mum's dead. The old man bashes him without mercy, and he wishes he was an orphan. But no one's ever told Jaxie Clackton to be careful what he wishes for. In one terrible moment his life is stripped to little more than what he can carry and how he can keep himself alive. There's just one person left in the world who understands him and what he still dares to hope for. But to reach her he'll have to cross the vast saltlands on a trek that only a dreamer or a fugitive would attempt. The Shepherd's Hut is a searing look at what it takes to keep love and hope alive in a parched and brutal world.
Publisher: [Melbourne, Victoria] :, Hamish Hamilton, an imprint of Penguin Books,, 2018.
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 266 pages ;,23 cm.


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From Library Staff

Rural Australia comes to life and merges with brilliant descriptive writing that will have you smelling the eucalypt in the air, and hearing the crispy arid saltlands crunching underfoot. The doyen of Australian contemporary fiction has produced another masterpiece. A young man forced by circumst... Read More »

Roberta's Pick: You're right inside the mind of Jaxie as he makes a run from a crime scene through increasingly dry scrub far north of Perth. Tim Winton excels himself in this novel. The setting (I swear it can be smelt), the dialogue (say what you like about Ozzie accents, it is a marvelously in... Read More »

robertafsmith Jun 18, 2018

Roberta's Pick: You're right inside the mind of Jaxie as he makes a run from a crime scene through increasingly dry scrub far north of Perth. Tim Winton excels himself in this novel. The setting (I swear it can be smelt), the dialogue (say what you like about Ozzie accents, it is a marvelously in... Read More »

From the critics

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Jan 15, 2021

This is my 1st Tim Winton book....I will try others of his. It's a very down to the bone story.
Jaxie gets what he wishes for....his father is dead, which makes him an orphan. It also changes his life completely. He has to get out of where he is living, he intends to head to the only person left in the world who understands him but to do that means he has to cross vast saltlands, with only a backpack & a rifle. It is a story of survival. Harsh.

Nov 19, 2020

Many readers will be immediately turned off by the style, tone and language of this book. That’s unfortunate, because this fellow Tim Winton is an exceptional writer and this is a very compelling story. Yes, it’s raw. It has to be. This is the outback of Australia, not a place for the faint of heart; and the protagonist, a 15-year-old boy on the run for his life is an angry, frightened, severely abused youngster who has survived only by fighting anybody he has met, win or lose. He has the scars (both physical and emotional) to prove it. He has every reason to believe he will be charged with murder. Despite his tortured upbringing and the brutalizing influence of a drunken thug father, he is not (like some Aussie males) a misogynist. On the surface, he is crude, truculent; but beneath that lies a much more complex person and we get to know a lot about what motivates him. This kid is no hero, he makes a lot of mistakes; his thinking at times is muddled. He’s in way over his head.
No purple prose here, no lollipops and roses; it’s all in the vernacular and Jaxie’s language, both spoken and internal, is peppered with profanity. But this is about as real as it gets.
4 gritty stars.

Jan 25, 2020

This is my favorite Tim Winton novel. One of the unique things about him as an author is his humanity. And he does not judge his characters. He is just a tremendously talented and humane writer.

Apr 22, 2019

My very first Tim Winton book, and I loved his evocative writing! Can't wait to read more of his books now!!

jr3083 Apr 18, 2019

The thing that struck me most about this book was the strong narrative voice of Jaxie, a runaway from his violent father. Jaxie is rough, crude but not a bad kid. When he meets Fintan, who seems to be some type of elderly, defrocked priest, he is wary of him, although Fintan seems to take Jaxie as he finds him. The book is violent and seeped through with twisted masculinities.
After my early love affair with Tim Winton with Cloudstreet (on the page, of course) I haven’t found another of his books that captured the magic of the first Winton I ever read. I have found myself tiring of his books about beaches and waves, and broken people. There are broken people in this book too, but this book comes closest, I think, to Cloudstreet in terms of narrative control and voice.

See my complete review at

Jan 19, 2019

I really enjoyed this intriguing story particularly because of its location in the desolate outback of Australia.
The author himself lives in a low population area of Australia with his family.

Cas22 Sep 28, 2018

Written in the first person, this book expertly drew me in to the world of a troubled teenage boy, Jaxie Clackton, who flees his home after a lifetime of family violence and journeys into the harsh WA desert on a mission to re-connect with the love of his life, his cousin Lee. Jamie’s language is raw and confronting, brimming with bad grammar, colloquialisms and profanities. While this takes a bit of getting used to, it creates a character who is authentic and, ultimately, likeable. On the way he meets and connects with a hermit priest who also seems to be running from a troubled past although we never learn the details. For Jaxie, however, the desert and his connection to a different kind of human being in the priest provide an epiphany and, hopefully, a better life. A good, if somewhat inconclusive, story.

bookishdl Aug 20, 2018

I loved 'Breath' and was looking forward to this offering and whilst I am glad I read it, I can't quite believe it took me so long to finish it. The very Australian vernacular is a little hard to get into as an overseas born reader, so this may explain my difficulty in getting into the rhythm. Once you have a run at it, it does fall into place and you drift into the story.

The description of the landscape, abuse, personal hygiene and butchery are visceral and are so well articulated by Winton that I could smell, feel and taste it. I did enjoy how the relationship between Jaxie and Finton developed to its explosive conclusion and the final quarter of the book had my heart racing but I almost felt cheated that it seemed to gallop up on me very quickly and then it was over - very abruptly.

If you're a Winton fan, I'm sure you'll love this very Australian novel. I enjoyed it but didn't love it.

Aug 20, 2018

This was a great read - Booker-Prize worthy. Should have made the list.

Aug 19, 2018

A gritty and fast-moving tale of brutality and survival, Winton's novel is his best in a line of many good stories. The Western Australia landscape is almost a character unto itself, and the language Winton uses is both inventive and pitch perfect. It is a tough landscape and a tough story - hard to say that I loved it, as it is dark and often scary, but I couldn't put it down.

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